The Power of None, 2018
The Power of None, 2018
For Artefact 2018 Maarten Vanden Eynde created the new work The Power of None, a multifaceted installation that deals with the different agencies of silicon, tracing its past, present and future potential.
Over 90% of the earth's crust is composed of silicate minerals, making silicon the second most abundant element in the earth's crust, after oxygen. It is the basic material in the production of integrated circuits used in computers, TVs, mobile phones and all types of electronic equipment and semiconductor devices; and is also used in large quantities for the production of photovoltaic solar cells. Since the beginning of the digital revolution, microchips made of silicon have consistently been shrunk to smaller and smaller sizes, as was articulated in Moore’s Law in 1965. By the beginning of the 21st century the traditional chip circuitry made of silicon has become too microscopic to work reliably, marking the end of the silicon age.
The centre of The Power of None consists of a silicium copy of a human brain, and doubles as the core of a prehistoric "computer". Surrounding the centre is a field of silicium wafers, the raw material to produce transistors, that are mounted on standards like circular solar panels. They are connected to the central brain with raw copper wires. On the silicium wafers a variety of centric diatoms is made visible. Diatoms are a major group of microalgae, and are among the most common types of phytoplankton. A unique feature of diatom cells is that they are enclosed within a cell wall made of silica. Researchers are now using diatoms and other single-celled algae as templates for developing new solar cells that can produce up to three times as much energy as conventional solar cells.
The diatoms shown in the work are taken from the world famous Universum Diatomacearum Möllerianum that is kept in a vault in the botanical garden of Meise. It is the holy grail for microbiologists, made by Johann Diedrich Möller in 1890, consisting of 4026 different diatoms. Using specialized photography and printing techniques, the original image was transferred onto the silicium wafers.
The Power of None is part of the artistic research project Triangular Trade in which Vanden Eynde investigates the influence of transatlantic trade of pivotal materials like rubber, oil, ivory, copper, cotton and uranium, on evolution and progress, the creation of nations and other global power structures. The project traces back the origin of the different materials and follows their (r)evolutionary path as they are processed and transformed into 'world changing wonders'.
Maarten Vanden Eynde (BE)
practice is embedded in long term research projects that focus on numerous subjects of social and political relevance such as post-industrialism, capitalism and ecology. Since 2003, Vanden Eynde has been developing an invented field of research called Genetology – the science of first things – that investigates the future legacy of humankind. His work is situated exactly on the borderline between the past and the future; sometimes looking forward to the future of yesterday, sometimes looking back to the history of tomorrow.
Recent exhibitions include Belgian Art Prize Bozar, Brussels, Belgium (2017), 2050. A Brief History of the Future at Palazzo Reale, Milan, Italy (2016) and The Royal Museums of Fine Art, Brussels, Belgium (2015), In_Dependence at Performatik Biennale, Brussels, Belgium (2017), Realitiés Filantes, #4 Biennale de Lubumbashi, D.R. Congo (2015), Beyond Earth Art at Johnson Museum of Art, Ithaca, United States (2014), Ja Natuurlijk/Yes Naturally at Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Netherlands (2013), The Deep of the Modern, Manifesta9, Genk, Belgium (2012).
In 2005 he founded Enough Room for Space (ERforS), an interdependent art initiative that initiates and coordinates events, residencies, research projects and exhibitions worldwide, together with Marjolijn Dijkman.
This newly commissioned work is a STUK-KU Leuven coproduction. It was developed in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Ludo Froyen and the technical staff of the KU Leuven Department of Sustainable Metals Processing and Recycling.
Special thanks to Prof. Dr. Bart Van de Vijver from Botanical Garden Meise.